• The West End Mom

7 Tips for Saving Money on Museum Admissions

We love visiting our local Richmond museums & gardens, and we love exploring new museums & aquariums around Virginia - they add fun experiences and learning opportunities to every day activities, day trips & vacations. But, all of those admission tickets can add up quickly for a family, especially when your little ones no longer receive free admission (2 and under are typically free).

Don't worry - though - I've got 7 ways to save money when visiting Richmond area museums and gardens... plus ways you can enjoy new museums while you're out of town!

Here are 7 ways to save money when visiting museums with kids:

1. Check for museums and gardens with free admission. In Richmond, we have a few museums that offer free admission for all guests at all times: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Holocaust Museum, and Maymont farm, gardens and mansion.

Maymont is one of our go-to spots to explore because it has animals interactions in the Children's Farm, stroller friendly paths throughout (the hills are a work out!), and beautiful gardens to walk through. It's such a big park that you won't be able to explore the entire space with little kids in one visit.

*Check here for a review of our experience at Maymont.

The VMFA's sculpture garden is one of our favorite places to picnic in Richmond. It has large green spaces with trees that provide some shade, a hill that is perfect for running up and rolling down, water features and so many secret spaces to explore.

*Check here for a review of our experience at the VMFA.

2. Check the Museums for All participants. Museums for All is a national program that encourages everyone to visit museums and gardens. If you are receiving food assistance, you can access reduced or free admission to a lot of museums, zoos and gardens.

The Children's Museum of Richmond: All guests who present their SNAP EBT card, EBT App, or WIC card will receive $2 admission for up to 6 people. If you would like to purchase your ticket online, use code "MFA" and bring your card to the check in desk.

This museum also offers Scholarship Family Memberships at both the downtown location and the Chesterfield location. This membership is available to families with a household income of $35,000 or less per year at the downtown location, and to families with a household income of $40,000 or less per year at the Chesterfield location.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: All guests who present their SNAP, WIC EBT card, or the Fresh EBT app will receive $1 admission for adults & free admission for up to 6 youth (17 years old and younger). There is also a membership option for under $10. Email contactus@lewisginter.org for more information.

The Science Museum of Virginia: All guests who present their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at the admissions desk can receive a membership for the reduced rate of $20. This family deal is for 2 adults and all children under 18 in the household.

3. Purchase a membership to your favorite museum, garden, zoo or aquarium. I usually determine if it is worth it for us to purchase a membership by calculating how many times we'd have to visit annually for us to break even. With most Richmond area museums, you need to visit 2 or 3 times to make that membership worth it for your family.

Most of Richmond area membership also have an indoor space to enjoy, making it a good investment for rainy days, cold days or summer days!

The Children's Museum of Richmond: It costs a family of 4 $36 per visit. Adult tickets are $9, children's tickets are $9, and children under 12 months are free.

Annual family memberships cost $149, and this includes 2 legal guardians and up to 6 children in the same household. Members also get access to the ACM Reciprocal Membership program. This program allows CMoR members to visit partnering museum for a reduced admission cost.

This membership is worth it if your family plans on visiting 5 or more times a year. Since this museum has a large indoor space, and a recently updated outdoor space and splash pad, this is a great membership for families with children ages 0-8.

*Check here to see our recent visit to the Children's Museum of Richmond.

Maymont: It costs a family of 4 about $28. Adult tickets are $8, children's tickets are $6 (ages 3-12), and children 2 and under receive free admission to the nature center.

Annual family memberships cost $60 for 2 adults and 6 children under 18 years old. While visiting the outdoor park and gardens is free, a membership includes access to Maymont's Nature Center, discounted admission to early childhood classes & programs, and a discounted ticket for special events like Garden Glow.

This membership is worth it if you plan on visiting 3 or more times. Plus the childhood classes and camps, like Toddler Time, are fantastic!

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: It costs a family of 4 $50 a visit. Adult tickets are $17, children's tickets are $8 (ages 17 to 3), and children under 3 are free.

Annual family memberships cost $135 for a family of 2 adults and up to 6 children under 18. This membership includes 2 free guest passes and access to Garden Fest for free (specified dates each year). Members can attend Flowers after 5 (a summer concert series) without an additional ticket cost, and they also get a discount on summer camps and classes, and they also get library borrowing privileges.

This membership is worth it if you plan on visiting the garden 3 or more times, and if you'd like to visit the GardenFest event for free.

The Science Museum of Virginia : The Supernova membership costs $150, and that includes access to all special exhibits, 4 Dome Theater passes, 4 guests passes, and ASTC Travel Passport Program reciprocity.

It costs a family of 4 around $52 a visit. Adult tickets cost $16, youth tickets cost $13.50 (ages 6-12), preschool tickets cost $10 (ages 3-5), and children 2 and under area free. The membership is worth it if you plan on visiting 4 or more times in a year.

4. Use your museum membership to visit other museums. Our local RVA museums, gardens and zoos participate in reciprocal admission programs, so that RVA members can enjoy new spaces all over the world for free or with discounts.

The Children's Museum of Richmond is part of the ACM Reciprocal Network, so members can visit 200 museums & receive 50% off admission. There are 10 participating museums in VA & 9 in NC .

The Science Museum of Virginia is part of the ASTC Passport Program. Members can visit participating science centers & museums that are 90 miles from the home membership location. With your membership, you can visit Alabama's US Space & Rocket Center for a discounted rate (1 adult & 2 kids for free). And you can visit Nauticus in Norfolk, The Children's Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth, and The Museum of Life and Science in Durham for FREE!

*Heads up: While museums like The Virginia Living Museum in Newport News are a part of this program, Science Museum of Virginia members cannot use their memberships at any location that is closer than "90 miles as the crow flies." Call the museum before you visit to make sure!

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is part of the American Horticultural Society, so members can visit 345+ gardens with special discounts. There’s 11 participating locations in Virginia , 14 in North Carolina & 7 in DC/Maryland. With your Lewis Ginter membership, you can visit Norfolk Botanical Garden for FREE!

*To use these benefits you must have your membership card & picture ID.

5. Check the museum's website for free or reduced admission days. Most offer discounts throughout the year.

The Children's Museum of Richmond offers free admission to Chesterfield County residents at it's Chesterfield location once of year. It also offers discounts to seniors and Military.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden offers free admission to everyone on July 4 and on Labor Day. They also offer a free week in the winter after Garden Fest, and there are two weeks of half-priced admission around mid-January.

*Check here for a review of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

6. If you have a Bank of America, Merrill or Bank of America Private Bank (US Trust) credit or debit card, you have access to the Museums on Us program. Bank of America cardholders can receive free admission to over 225 museums and cultural institutions on the first full weekend of each month. The free museum days for 2022 are July 2 & 3, August 6 & 7, September 3 & 4, October 1 & 2, November 5 & 6, and December 3 & 4.

The Children's Museum of Richmond Downtown participates in this program.

*This perk is only good for cardholders. You need to bring your active card and your ID. If you bring guests, they will need their own card or they will have to pay admission costs.

7. Request and gift memberships to your family.

Our family members team up to purchase memberships for each household. We've been fortunate to have both Science Museum membership and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden membership given to us as gifts each year.

*These can change at anytime. Please call the museum in advance to confirm participation.

For more details on these getaway spots and more Virginia adventures, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!

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